You just never know with sports. One thing going into the 2018 CFL season that seemed reasonable to assume though was that the Montreal Alouettes weren’t going to make much room for optimism. The idea that any hope would stem from a player from the unheralded Tiffin University Dragons would perhaps have strained the limits of credibility.
Hope is what sustains sports fans through the leanest of times. The hope that good times are just around the corner. The hope that even if things aren’t going as well as you’d like you might just still be able to upset your closest rival. What ever small comforts you can find. There has been little to fan the flames of hope and gladden the hearts of even the most positive of Als fans in recent times.
Going into the season you had to wonder, where would that hope come from? It was difficult to see past their league worst 3-15 performance in 2017. Added to that the last time they had a winning season was in 2012. Since when they’ve gone just 33-57 in the East Division. A division many would consider to be the weaker of the two in the CFL.
That negative view of the Als had only been compounded by their 1-8 start to the season, a run of futility highlighted by the week 2 56-10 drubbing at the hands of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the equally crushing 50-11 home defeat to Hamilton in week 8.
Aside from a surprise win at Saskatchewan in week 5 the Als had stumbled through the season to 1-8 and were still looking for that spark that could fan the flames of hope for their hardiest of fans.
The first signs of a fan base finding something to latch on to came with the signing of Johnny Manziel in a trade with Hamilton. Still though the wins weren’t coming. That’s where the aforementioned player from the Tiffin University Dragons comes in. Former Tiffin QB Antonio Pipkin has started for the Als the last two weeks and led them to two wins.
It may not seem like much, but to put into perspective, Montreal hasn’t won this many games in succession since the end of the 2016 season, when it won its final three contests. Not to mention the three wins they now have equals their total output for the 2017 season.
The Redblacks, who were coming off a bye in the schedule had won their last two games, seemed to be building momentum and few will have seen this loss coming for them. It’s not just that the Als won, but they did it so unexpectedly with a spark from an unexpected quarter.
That spark, that optimism the Als were looking for has not come from the marquee QB they traded for but from the Tiffin alum, who they cut earlier in the season. Pipkin may be no household name but he broke every school passing record at Division II Tiffin, appearing in 44 consecutive games, (41 starts), and had 13,147 yards of total offence, threw 88 touchdown passes and scored 25 times.
Whether he is the long-term answer for Montreal is anybody’s guess. It’s surely far too early to say. As stated at the start of this article, you just never know with sports. Pipkin is only getting this chance because Manziel is sidelined following concussion protocol. This chance may never have come at all, or this may be the zenith of his success, or alternatively this may be the start of something great for him and the team. We just don’t know.
For now though Montreal fans have that most precious of commodities back in their sporting lives. Hope kindled by their first consecutive wins in oh so long. Hope is a priceless commodity in sports so let’s hope they get to enjoy its riches for a little longer.
Image originally from cfl.ca